GL vs. Ligonier Valley School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: G.L.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing:

February 22, 2012 May 14, 2012 May 25, 2012 June 27, 2012 July 18, 2012 July 20, 2012 July 23, 2012 July 25, 2012

CLOSED HEARING

ODR Case # 2724-1112KE

Parties to the Hearing: Parents

Ligonier Valley School District 339 West Main Street Ligonier, PA 15658

Representative:

Charles Jelley, Esquire 229 South Maple Street Greensburg, PA 15601

Christina Lane, Esquire 1500 Ardmore Boulevard Suite 506
Pittsburgh, PA 15221

Date Record Closed: September 10, 2012

Date of Decision: October 9, 2012

Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[Student] (hereinafter “student”) is [a late teen-aged]] student who resides in the Ligonier Valley School District (“District”) and who has been identified as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEIA”) and Pennsylvania special education regulations (“Chapter 14”).1 Specifically, the student has been identified as a student as having specific learning disabilities. Parents allege that the student was denied a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) as the result of allegedly inappropriate individualized education plans (“IEPs”).

Additionally, parents make claims that the student was denied FAPE under the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”),2 as well as claims that the student suffered discrimination, prohibited by Section 504, as a result of bullying in the school environment. Included in these claims of discrimination are explicit claims that the District discriminated/retaliated against the family for pursuit of the protections afforded under IDEIA and Section 504 for students with disabilities.

The District counters that that it met its obligations to the student under IDEIA and Section 504, that allegations of bullying did not arise out of the student’s disability status and, regardless, were handled appropriately, and that the family did not suffer retaliation by the District.

As a final matter for background, at the outset of the hearing process, the parties disagreed over the recovery period should there be an award of compensatory education. Following the submission of briefs, this hearing officer ruled that even though parents sought to recover compensatory education for alleged deprivations of FAPE beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, the recovery period would be limited to a period within 2 years of the date the family filed its special education due process complaint, January 10, 2012. Therefore, any recovery was limited to a period beginning January 10, 2010. (Hearing Officer Exhibit [“HO”]-1, HO-2, HO-3, HO-4, HO-5).

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the family on the claim of discrimination and retaliation for the pursuit of the protections of IDEIA and Section 504, and in favor of the District on claims related to FAPE.

ISSUES

Was the student provided with FAPE during the 2009-2010 school year?

If the answer to question is “yes”,
is compensatory education owed to the student?

Did the District discriminate and/or retaliate against the student and family in violation of Section 504?

G-L-Ligonier-Valley-ODRNo-2724-1112KE

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